Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves Review

Of all the products in the Aerostich catalog, its the traditional "Roper" style gloves at which I was the most skeptical. So, offered the chance to review them, I jumped at the chance. Can these classics work in the modern world? Find out in this Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper review.

The Gear
The Roper's are an OG "cowboy" work glove that's "tough enough for barbed wire fencing, yet sensitive enough to accurately handle a lariat." Yeehaw!

Aerostich's Andy Goldfine found a pair in a roadside store while out riding one day and decided they were the perfect riding gloves. He contacted the manufacturer, made a few modifications to make them work better for bikers — most notably the squeegee on the outside of the left thumb — and they've been a staple of the Aerostich catalog ever since.

Elkskin is thicker and stronger than cow or deerskin and is extremely supple. You'll see the "buttery" adjective applied to high quality leather, but I've never come across a material more fitting that description. While wearing them, your body heat will form the gloves to your individual shape, a process aided by the soft, unfinished interiors soaking up your sweat. Putting these gloves on becomes like going home for your hands.

Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves
Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves

To the basic Roper formula, this Competition Touchscreen adds Velcro wrist retention straps, a strip of TF3 viscoelastic foam across the knuckles and conductive thread sewn into the thumb, index and ring fingers. The first two features aid safety, holding the gloves on in a crash and providing impact protection, while the latter enables you to use touchscreen devices without removing the gloves.

Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves
Andy Goldfine's own Aerostich Roper Gloves.

The Good
The patina they develop when worn is unique to you and well, this nerd thinks its the coolest looking thing ever.

American-made quality is unrivaled. They'll make your $300 Italian race gauntlets feel cheap.

A treat for your hands, there's probably not anything more comfortable (at reasonable temperatures) out there.

Like other Aerostich products, the clever design features are extremely well executed. The conductive threads on the fingers are offset, a position Aerostich found to be optimal for pinching and swiping an iPhone after, you know, actually testing such things. The squeegee is positioned so it doesn't interfere with your grip on the bars, while still providing good contact with your visor.

And that squeegee works, too! It's great wiping free the droplets of moisture that accumulate on a visor during a fine mist or while riding in fog. Why don't all motorcycle gloves have one?

You're never going to be able to type out a legible text message, but you can pinch and swipe to see a map on your phone from a different perspective or hit large buttons to progress step-by-step directions and use other basic navigation controls. That's handier than it sounds, enabling you to quickly confirm directions during a momentary stop rather than go through the time and effort of removing and stowing gloves just because you forgot a street name.

The elkskin is reassuringly thick and strong; it should provide excellent abrasion protection.

Sizing is by half glove size — 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5 etc — rather than the usual Small, Medium, Large you see in most motorcycle gloves, giving you an even more accurate fit.

The Bad
While the unvented gloves work surprisingly well on hot days, they're not ultimately going to be as cool as special purpose hot weather riding gloves when temperatures climb north of 100 degrees.

And then there's the biggest sticking point: safety. Modern motorcycle gloves are covered in carbon and plastic armor for a reason. While that little strip of TF3 is going to provide some knuckle protection, there's no hard armor on the palm, no sliders to prevent the heel of your palm from catching the pavement or any of the other add-on protection parts we've grown accustomed to. As such, these gloves are going be mostly applicable for touring and cruiser riders.

Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves
The Aerostich Competition Elkskin Roper Touchscreen Gloves can look a little out of place on modern bikes like this Honda Grom.

The Verdict
The Ropers provide a welcome counterpoint to the modern motorcycle glove, bringing a level of comfort and quality that's absent from most contemporary products. With the Competition Touchscreen Ropers, you gain the ability to operate a smartphone or GPS navigator and safety is somewhat increased. Unfortunately, while they do provide excellent abrasion protection, the Ropers do not provide the same level of impact protection as most rivals.

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